Band History
Our Director
Our Founder
Our Members
Close Ups
Band Photos
Band Photos 2
Members' Information

The following is a narrative presented during the Cumberland County Community Band concert, September 17, 2015.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for your presence at tonight’s concert entitled “An Evening of Classics”.  My name is Jim Bell and I would like to give you some information about the history of the Cumberland County Community Band and give you some insight into what makes this organization unique.  As a native of Crossville and Cumberland County, I am thankful we have a group as talented and well-rounded as the Cumberland County Community Band.  I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this group and I have learned a lot in my short tenure with the band. 

This year’s concert season marks the 15th year of the band’s existence and tonight’s concert is a special celebration.  Tonight we are featuring the talents of your friends and neighbors who practice and perform in this extraordinary group.  We are so thankful that Professor [William V.] Johnson [guest conductor] has come back to his hometown to share his expertise with us.  It has been a pleasure to sit in rehearsal and to perform under his leadership tonight.  In addition, later in our program, we will feature a special performance rarely heard [The First Movement of Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor].and a talent [Annetta Deck] rarely found in a community our size.  I am excited to be here tonight and at the close of tonight’s performance I believe you will understand why.  

This group, the Cumberland County Community Band, cannot hold claim to being the first community band in the Crossville area.  Historical accounts show the existence of a small band called “The Crossville Cornet Band” in or around 1888.  The band, like most bands of its type would play for various community celebrations such as Independence Day and Sunday concerts. Not much more is known about this group.  Over 100 years later, a small group of local musicians under the direction of its brainchild, Murray Kidwell, began rehearsing at Cumberland County High School in November of 2000 and performed their first concert in the gymnasium there the following month.  Murray continued as the band’s director until his retirement in 2008.  He was followed as director by Jack Bittle, Lance Kennedy and Brian Bacon.  Murray returned this year as interim director while the search for a new director was conducted.  We look forward to beginning the next chapter of the band with Glen Belcher as our new director.  Rehearsals begin in 2 weeks in preparation for our Veteran’s Benefit Concert November 5th.

One definition of a community band could simply be a band that exists in a community to help support and entertain the community with various performances at various events.  That would describe the Cumberland County Community Band but it really doesn’t do it justice.  The band is really a community within itself with many diverse individuals making up its core.  This current group of musicians represents a total of one-thousand five-hundred and sixty-seven years of musical experience with an average of 38 years of experience for each member.  We have over a dozen members who either taught as music educators in schools as classroom teachers, high school and college band directors and professors or in the private sector as instrumental instructors.  We have 7 members who have played in 15 different military bands all over the world at some time during their playing careers.  We have 16 members who have played or are currently playing in various professional or semi-professional groups including symphony orchestras, symphonic brass bands and ensembles, big bands and dance bands, playhouse pit orchestras as well as various smaller combos and groups.  Others are playing in area community bands like ours as well as various instrumental groups and singing in various vocal groups.

While we have a group of individuals who have made performing or teaching music their primary career, the majority of our members have not spent their lives playing continually.  All but a few of us began to play in Junior High band and continued playing through High School.  Roughly two-thirds of us played in college.  Most of us however laid down our instruments for a period of time during our adult lives.  On average, there was a 29 year gap in our playing careers.  But we still had a desire to play so we pulled our horns out of our closets, dusted them off, got our chops back in shape and here we are tonight.  I know there are those of you in the audience who could do the same thing.  We invite you to become a member of our band community as a player.

The careers we pursued in life were varied.  We have current or retired sales reps, human resource managers and manufacturing reps.  We have retired postal and government employees, secretaries, business owners and managers.  We have current or retired health care professions represented including dentistry, optometry and pharmacy.  We have two students, one elementary and one high school, playing for this concert. We anticipate will have several more [students] during the non-marching band season.  We have industrial, mechanical and electronic engineers. And we even have our own rocket scientist.  Yes, I said rocket scientist.  You don’t really have to have one to play music but it’s nice to know you have one if you need one.

Members of the band on stage tonight were born in 18 different states, with Tennessee and Illinois having the most with 6 members each. Interestingly the next state in rank is all the way from California with 5 members.  Of the 44 members surveyed, only 3 were born locally.  The desire to live in the Upper Cumberland area is what has brought us all together.  The love of making and performing music is what we all have in common and what helps make this group successful. 

We currently have three married couples and over the years many sons, daughters and grandchildren have been active in the band.  We all enjoy working together as a family to make up this community which is the Cumberland County Community Band.

In summary, what makes this group unique is the diversity of its members, both professionally and geographically yet we are able to form a well-balanced and well-rounded musical group.  We enjoy rehearsing each week and especially performing for our loyal and educated audiences.  We hope you enjoy our work as much as we enjoy presenting it for you.  An organization this large requires good support from its sponsors, patrons and its audiences.  Without your continued attendance and monetary support, we would not be able to continue to thrive and contribute to the community of Crossville and Cumberland County.  Thank you for that support.